Detection of metazoan species as a public health issue: simple methods for the validation of food safety and quality

O. Vassioukovitch, M. Orsini, Andrea Paparini, G. Gianfranceschi, O. Cattarini, P. Di Michele, E. Montuori, G.C. Vanini, V. Romano-Spica

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    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Species identification represents a critical issue in food chain safety and quality control. Several procedures are available to detect animal proteins in cattle feed or to trace transgenic foods. The most effective approach is based on the use of DNA as a marker. Amplification of DNA provides rapid, sensitive and specific protocols. Several target genes can be used, but new insights come from the mitochondrial genome, which is naturally amplified in each cell and shows a remarkable resistance to degradation. These are key points when analysing complex matrices such as foods, animal feedstuff or environmental samples. Traceability is important to prevent BSE or to monitor novel foods, such as genetically modified organisms. Amplification is commonly performed, but it requires expertise and a molecular biology laboratory to perform restriction analysis, electrophoresis or gel staining for the visualisation of results. Hereby, we consider a strategy based on multiple nested amplification and reverse hybridisation assay that virtually requires only a thermocycler and a water bath. The protocol is rapid and simple and can simultaneously detect different species in a DNA sample. This promising approach allows microarray developments, opening up to further perspectives. An international application has been published under the patent cooperation treaty. Presently, a ban on feeding ruminants on cattle-derived proteins is in force in Europe and USA. The identification of metazoan traces in a sample is not only a mere preventive measure for BSE, but represents a possible screening system for monitoring biotechnology products and procedures, as well as a quality control strategy to assure consumer's rights.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)335-354
    JournalBiotechnology Annual Review
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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